Exodus 33:12-23 My Presence Will Go with You: The Promise of His Presence
One point that I was not able to get to last week is the significance of the end of verse eleven in chapter thirty-three. I would like to make a few comments on that before we move on to today’s text. Joshua did not depart from the tabernacle that had been set up even when Moses would leave. We know that Joshua goes on to do great things, becoming Moses’ successor. It is noteworthy that Joshua did not depart from the tent of meeting. The presence of God had moved outside the camp, so Joshua moved outside the camp. I really like Joshua… Perhaps Joshua cared for the tent in some way. The Bible says that he was a servant which simply means minister. “Joshua did not depart from the tabernacle.” He did not want to leave the place of God’s presence.
Now we move on to today’s main text and we find Moses mediating. God chose Moses to do and say these very things. According to God, grace and forgiveness could only come by intercession and God Himself raised up Moses for this role. God is always at work, doing good even when we don’t deserve it.
Moses says, “Show me now Your way” which God responds “My presence will go with you” and Moses is not finished and goes on to say, “Show me Your glory.”
READ SCRIPTURE- This is the Word of God
Point 1: Show Me Now Your Way
A. Moses needed a concrete fact that he could receive grace from God.
a. God had said “I know you by name” = I have singled you out.
b. God had said “You have found favor/grace with me”
c. Now He wants God to give him indisputable proof of this grace.
B. Moses also did this that he may know God = Teach me Your ways is a good translation
a. Moses knew that the only way for Him to stay in that grace was to be taught.
b. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
C. God’s way is forgiveness; His way is grace. It is the manner in which God will go with them that Moses desires to know.
a. 2 Samuel 22:31 As for God, His way is perfect; the Word of the LORD is proven.
b. The Psalms declare: “Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.”
Connective: After Moses’ request to learn God’s ways, God answers by saying that He would go with Moses. Now that is grace. After all that Moses had been through, the sin that he had committed, and the disobedience of his people, God showed him His ways- which is grace. It is a merciful God that will go with Moses despite the instability of the people.
Point 2: My Presence Will Go with You
A. Let me know whom You will send with me- My presence will go with you
a. Literally God says, “My face will go with you.”
b. Moses didn’t want God to go with him alone, but also with the people.
B. I will give you rest
a. Rest here refers to settling in the promised land.
b. There is also an idea of “faith rest” that must be taught.
aa. Moses could rest in faith based on God’s promise.
bb. We must rest in faith based on God’s promises.
C. Separate from all the people of the earth
a. I must say it again because the text forces me to- Who are we without God?
b. It is God’s presence among us that separates us from all the world.
D. “You have found grace in My sight.”
a. God’s grace was rooted in His intimate knowledge of Moses.
b. It was Moses’ request, which God ordained, that allowed God to forgive.
Connective (Internal Summary):
It seems that God forgave Israel very quickly and with little effort from Moses. Doesn’t it take more? Isn’t it harder to earn grace like this? No… God had every intention of forgiving the people in the first place.
God is both Just and Justifier. After Moses knew the grace of God which came in that promise, he asks the LORD to show him His glory.
Point 3: Show Me Your Glory
A. Glory = Goodness (In God’s words)
a. Glory is actually defined as weight. God shows how weighty He is, His worth.
b. I will be gracious (compassion) to whom I will be gracious (compassion).
aa. God is sovereign over all. He can do anything He pleases.
bb. And all these things are in accordance with His name.
c. Romans 9:15-17 applies this verse from Exodus to God’s sovereignty:
“For he said to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy. For the scripture says to Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.”
B. You cannot see My face.
a. The following verses are a great mystery.
b. In the preceding verses which we have covered Moses saw something, but it was apparently very limited for God said, “You cannot see My face.”
c. John 4 teaches that God is spirit, so this must have been a great spiritual experience and also a great manifestation of the one glorious God.
C. Seeing God’s Glory
a. To see God’s glory, Moses had to stand on a rock and God would put Moses in a cleft (a cave) and cover Moses with His hand because no one can see God and live.
b. God said that He would remove His hand so that Moses could see His back.
c. “Hand” and “Back” are terms used to describe the realities of God in a way that we can understand.
d. This may be best understood that God was allowing Moses to see the “after-effects” of His glory that would pass by.
When Abraham was taking Isaac up the mountain to sacrifice him, Abraham said God would provide for Himself the lamb. In this situation with Israel, God provides for Himself the means of forgiving them. In His sovereignty, God raised up Moses to intercede for the people. It is by that intercession that God could forgive the people.
The glorious presence of God Almighty is what Moses really desired and what we desire.
Let us model what the text teaches us:
1. Intercession (prayer) finds for us forgiveness that God is waiting to bestow.
- The NT teaches that if we confess our sins that God is quick/faithful to forgive.
2. It is by learning God’s ways that we can stay in His grace.
- Learning from Him makes us faithful people.
3. Seek God’s glory.
- We should long to experience God’s worth.